People may say that football was popular in India in the past. What they don’t understand is that football has been in Indian history in the past and is still actively being watched by millions making it very popular. It was first introduced in India by British soldiers. They used the game to unite the armies. Nagendra Sarbadhikari is the reason why the football spirit spread so widely. The first tournament to be played was the Durant cup which was founded by Mortimer Durant in 1888 who was then a foreign secretary. This is the third oldest cup after the FA cup and the Scottish cup in the world. The first team to win the Durant cup were the Royal Scots Fusiliers who won by beating Highland Light Infantry a 2-1 win. Sarada FC is the oldest Indian Football club.
All Indian Football Federation was formed in the year 1937. It took almost a decade before it was affiliated with FIFA. In the year 1948, FIFA announced a ban on the barefoot play. Indian players though insisted on playing on bare feet while other nations took to playing in boots. In that same year, it is said that the Indians refused to play because of the ban that was imposed by FIFA but most feel that this was just a result of the AIFF decision made.
In the golden phase of Indian football that is in the years 1951 and 1962, the Indian team won several tournaments like the Asian Games. When they later agreed to start using boots in the year 1956, they reached the semis of Melbourne Olympic football hence becoming the first Asian country to ever go that far. In the year 1962, India won again the gold medal in the Asian Games.
In the year 2014, India was the host of the Unity World Cup in Goa Hyderabad. They participated in the FIFA U-17 for the first time. In 2018, India defeated the football giants, Argentina U-20 in the Confit cup and also Iraq in U-16.
These facts show that India has been actively involved in football and even won big matches. Be sure to catch the upcoming ISL matches that will feature teams from India competing against one another from this November.